New Target store shows changing face of Cabrini-Green neighborhood

A Target store now occupies the corner of Division and Larrabee, where Cabrini-Green once stood.
October 8, 2013 3:56:42 PM PDT
A brand new store is about to open for business at the former site of a public housing complex known for being a haven for criminal activity. A Target store now occupies the corner of Division and Larrabee, where Cabrini-Green once stood.

Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were among those expected at a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for Tuesday night. This project, more than a year in the making, would have been unheard of on this corner not long ago.

On Tuesday, work continues at the store and nearby streets are being re-paved ahead of Sunday's opening.

"It'll be good for groceries and birthday presents and I think also good for business," said Jacqueline Coates, neighborhood resident.

The new store will employ 200 people, and Target has promised 75 of those jobs to Chicago Housing Authority residents.

This, after all, is the same corner that served as the gateway to Cabrini-Green, the notorious public housing complex where thousands once lived.

"To have the amenities in the community right across the street from your home, so you don't have to travel far to shop, but also your family members getting an opportunity to get a job, this is a great thing," said Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th Ward.

Target's arrival is a testament to how much has changed two years after the final wrecking ball.

"I saw murders. I saw my nephew get murdered right there in front of the 660 building," said Alther Harris, former Cabini-Green resident.

Alther Harris lived in Cabrini-Green for three decades and was there in 1981, when then-mayor Jane Byrne moved into the projects for three weeks following a rash of murders.

Harris was there in 1992, when 7-year-old Dantrell Davis was shot and killed on his way to school. And in 1997 , when a nine-year-old girl known as "Girl X," was raped and left to die in a stairwell.

Despite it all, Harris still lives in the neighborhood now replete with mixed-income condos.

"I decided I'd stick around and see what the end is going to be. . .This store probably is going to become one of the more famous Targets in the city because it's sitting in that spot. And I think it's going to be a great store," said Harris.

But not everyone supports the store. At a time when only a third of the promised post-Cabrini-Green public housing has been built.

"This property should have been used to build affordable housing," said Paul McKinley, Voice of the Ex-Offender.

CHA says this Target store is not taking away land for development of public housing because the company got it through a land-swap deal. Target essentially bought up other parcels of land on the Near North Side and exchanged them with the CHA.

The store is set to open on Sunday.


Load Comments